News Analysis |
Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, will be heading back to Kot Lakhpat Jail today along with a big procession of party workers led by daughter Mariam Nawaz, in the evening after his six-week bail period expires. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader will reportedly be turning himself into the jail authorities after breaking his fast tomorrow at his Jati Umra residence in Lahore.
The Supreme Court had turned down his plea for an extension to his bail period on medical grounds last week. Earlier Nawaz Sharif received unprecedented treatment by the court when he was granted bail under not ‘very serious’ circumstances. Legal fraternity remained divided over the question regarding legality of Nawaz’s bail. Meanwhile, Fawad Chaudhry, Federal Minister for Science and technology, said that the use of the term ‘bail’ seems inappropriate for the “six-week-long leave” PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has been granted by the Supreme Court.
Moreover, media reports suggest that the PML-N has decided to set up 10 camps on the way to Kot Lakhpat Jail to express solidarity with their leader. Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz chaired a consultation meeting at the PML-N Secretariat in Model Town on Monday to finalize the arrangements for Nawaz’s rally. According to sources, Hamza will drive his paternal uncle to the jail.
Nawaz Sharif’s brother and Opposition leader, Shahbaz Sharif is currently in London for medical examination and will not be present with the procession and will return to Pakistan in few days.
In July last year, Nawaz Sharif and his daughter returned from London and surrendered before the authorities. It was expected that the former Prime Minister would be received by a large crowd but Shahbaz Sharif’s, younger brother of Nawaz and President of PML-N, deliberate efforts not to go to welcome the party supremo reportedly disappointed him.
The PML-N supreme leader was sentenced to seven years in prison and was fined Rs1.5 billion in the Al-Azizia reference by an accountability court on December 24, 2018. However, he was acquitted in another reference related to Flagship Investments. He was imprisoned in Adiyala Jail and later shifted to Kot Lakhpat Jail on his request.
Nawaz Sharif was granted bail for six weeks by the Supreme Court to afford him an opportunity to get treatment of his choice in the country for his complicated heart and kidney disease. The bail expires on May 7 (today) as the apex court rejected his review petition seeking extension in bail and permission for treatment in United Kingdom.
Nawaz Sharif had filed a petition in the Supreme Court on April 30 which stated that a review petition had been filed in the Supreme Court on its March 26 decision. The petition sought an extension in Nawaz’s bail until a decision on the review petition.
Nawaz’s Political Future?
Sabir Shakir and Arif Hameed Bhatti of ARY news believe that the political career of Nawaz Sharif is over. “After the verdict of the honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan there is a slim opportunity for Nawaz to maintain himself politically relevant,” said Sabir Shakir in a talk show. Since Nawaz has been barred from holding any public office or leading the political party therefore many experts and political commentators have the opinion that it is the end of Nawaz’s era.
However, there is another opinion as well which suggests that the analysis of Nawaz’s politics through legal lens may not be helpful in the context of Pakistan where laws are generally neither effective nor respected. It is believed that Nawaz’s anti-establishment narrative which is acceptable for the liberals and civil society at home and equally important for the western power shall help him rise again.
Analysts believe that Nawaz is exploiting pro-democracy sentiments in Pakistan by establishing an anti-establishment narrative under the leadership of Maryam Nawaz who is composed and well-spoken. But there is a question of commitment and sincerity with the cause Nawaz and his aides are struggling for. The question remains, will Nawaz stand firm and not seek any NRO in the future?